Yes, back to an old familiar topic, but on a different and exotic location. The Virgin Islands are still considered U.S. territory, and being such, they are required to follow the same labor laws that many of the U.S. states have to follow. One of these labor laws has to do with workers’ comp. So let’s get our workers’ safety and injury hat back on, and dive back into a familiar topic, this time with palm trees and warm sand on our mind.
In the Virgin Islands, the workers’ comp system basically works for employers the way that we are used to. It is meant to provide medical and disability benefits to workers when they are hurt or get sick on the job. As in the United States, in the territories such as the Virgin Islands the concept of workers’ comp is meant to protect both employees and employers, though it might not always seem that way.
That’s because the workers obviously gets medical bills paid and disability covered through workers’ comp when they are hurt. As for the employer, they get the knowledge that, by accepting their workers’ comp benefits, the employee loses their rights to sue for liability issues.
Since workers’ comp in theory works so well, the government of the Virgin Islands requires all employers to have some of the coverage. That means as long as you have one or more employees under your keep, you have to have this type of insurance. That includes independent contractors and subcontractors, as well as private, public and government companies. In the Virgin Islands, workers’ comp is sold by a Government Insurance Fund.
If you fail to purchase the coverage, you could be sued by your employee when they get hurt on the job. That would make you a lot more open to paying huge court fees and penalties for such things as medical bills, as well as the employee’s pain and suffering from not being covered.
In the Virgin Islands, you are responsible for filing the accident report, too, to the Virgin Islands Workers’ Comp Administration. You have eight days to do so according to the Islands’ labor laws. That means within eight days of the employee telling you about their accident, then you have to report it to the state.
If you don’t, or if you refuse to sign the employee’s accident report at all, then you could be found guilt of a criminal misdemeanor. That leaves you open to receiving a fine of up to $2000. Then you could have to sit through a hearing with the Virgin Islands Workers’ Comp Administration, in which case you could get fined an additional $5000 if you are found guilty of willfully refusing to report an injury of one of your employees.
All the while, if your intention was to prevent a worker from making a workers’ comp claim that you didn’t think was valid, forget about it. Whether you sign and report their injury or not, they will still have their claim looked at by the Workers’ Comp Administration. So sign and report the workers’ comp injury, and then let the system work to detect whether an injury is valid or not.
After the worker is hurt and disabled, they may recover and want to return back to you. Under Virgin Islands labor law, you have to try to allow an employee to return to their original position, or at least try another position that they can handle. The labor law allows exceptions to this rule if you can prove that the employee cannot perform their old job or something like it, or that the employee actually quit on their own not related to the injury.
As you can see, if you do not follow these workers’ comp labor laws, the Virgin Islands may stop seeming like paradise.